Dante's Inferno: Official Review
by Gauss


Basic Information:
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
North American Release Date: 2/9/2010
European Release Date: 2/5/2010
Trophies: Yes, 1 | 3 | 13 | 26


Overview
Dante's Inferno is a hack-n-slash inspired heavily by the poem of the same name. Its divided into levels, each one corresponding to a level of hell from the poem. Hell is full of epic boss battles that ultimately culminate in a face-off with the devil himself. The combat system follows two paths (Holy and Unholy) which focus on different aspects of combat.

Gameplay
Ok, well I'll get this out of the way right now. At its heart Dante's Inferno is basically God of War with a twist gameplay wise. The game follows the same basic combo system in terms of combat, has quick time event-based finishing moves, and a set of magic attacks.

The big difference is in how DI does its upgrade system. Rather than a static upgrade path system, DI has two paths: Holy and Unholy. You won't be able to upgrade both paths so you are forced to align yourself one way, and Visceral actually did a good job of making the two different play styles very different. On the holy path, for example, you will get alot of upgrades to your Holy Cross, making your ranged attacks very potent. On the other hand the unholy path is laden with special abilities for your scythe making your melee much more lethal. Each path has different magic abilities its aligned with as well, forcing you to compliment your capabilities with different powers.


The "vehicles" are all giant Hellbeasts

The other thing that Dante's Inferno does do that few hack-n-slashes manage to do is create fluid combat. The combos flow very nicely without being overly convoluted or confusing, even without committing all of them to memory you will naturally find a good rhythm and good balance because all the attacks are capable of being inter-connected. Its very different from a style like Ninja Gaiden, which has a steep learning curve, or Prototype, which is absolutely horrendous.

The gameplay isn't exactly perfect though, the hit boxes have some issues. Occasionally enemies will register hits on you without actually hitting you, and occasionally you will hit or miss enemies when it doesn't seem right. Its far from gamebreaking, but it is worth nothing.

Singleplayer
The singleplay story for Dante's Inferno is a pretty simple one. Dante goes off to fight in the crusades and ends up confronting death. He defeats death, stealing his infamous scythe, and returns home to find his wife and father murdered. Something is not right though as the entire world begins to unfold around him, soon Dante finds himself chasing his wife into the depths of hell.

Once in hell Dante continues to fight his way through each level, chasing after Beatrice. At each level Dante must confront the reality of his sins as you find out more and more about what happened before and during the crusade. Slowly you begin to realize that perhaps Dante belongs in Hell, and the story becomes about keeping Beatrice from this corruption. The story reaches a headway at the bottom of Hell, in a final confrontation with Lucifer himself.


This chump is about to have a bad day.

This confrontation, as well as all the boss fights proceeding it, are as epic as epic gets, and the game carries the scale you would expect from a journey through the most horrific place in the universe. The characters are pretty simple, they all have enough depth to carry the story enough to be coherent and entertaining. Lucifer is pretty one dimensional, and that is unfortunate, but ultimately the story isn't about him. Its a great example to a budding writer of a good place to start, the themes are simple enough to grasp and maneuver around, but enough care and intrigue was added so that by the end you have an emotional investment.

The game is relatively short, beatable in an 8 hour stint, and the ending isn't a surprise by any means. Still the story and singleplayer campaign is well worth playing and enjoyable.

Technical
This is where Dante's Inferno really shines, and this aspect of the game alone makes it worth the purchase. Keeping in the tradition at Visceral games, Dante's Inferno is absolutely amazing from a visual standpoint.


The art design is phenomenal.

The attention to detail, the art style, and the absolute commitment to creating a unique and immersive hell are ever apparent. DI does exactly what it should do: It creates an environment that never allows you to feel completely comfortable and doesn't allow you to leave. Each level is brilliantly laid out in terms of design, and each feels like a unique representation of the sin it represents.

While the job was perfected on the visual end, the audio end has some issues as far as I am concerned. While I am sure the soundtrack has 30 different musical numbers, too many of them sound the same. Several sections of hell seem to have the same soundtrack in the background, and the trademark "epic battle" doesn't have the power that the visual style should have backing it.

Trophies
Dante's Inferno is a pretty easy weekend platinum. None of the trophies are particularly difficult, even the 666 combo is easy with the right upgrades and the Gates of Hell arena is no where near as frustrating as a comparable arena in a game like God of War. This is an enjoyable plat as well, and comes highly recommended from me.

Closing Thoughts
Dante's Inferno is not a perfect game, but for 20 bucks it is well worth the purchase. Its a very under-rated game. It creates a great environment and a very compelling journey from beginning to end. I can't give this game a stellar rating just because its not actually on the level of a God of War. That being said, its well worth playing still.

Gameplay: 7/10
- An original take on the God of War formula. It has very fluid combat and a great take on the upgrade system. Hit box problems keep it from standing out.

Singleplayer: 7/10
- The story is simple, but effective. Plot twist at the end is pretty obvious, but that doesn't keep it from being entertaining.

Technical: 8/10
- An area where this game truly stands out, Visceral did a great job of creating a unique environment.

Overall: 7/10 Good